BELCO Storm Information

tree blowing in hurricaneThe Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited (BELCO) is Bermuda’s sole supplier of electricity, operating a generating plant and transmission and distribution systems throughout the island.

During a storm, safety is their first priority—both for customers and employees—and as soon as storm conditions ease, they turn their efforts to restoring power island-wide as quickly and efficiently as possible.

When a storm is imminent, BELCO establishes a command centre responsible for managing the restoration efforts. When storm conditions begin to subside, they dispatch a team of engineers to assess the damage.

Once the storm has passed, their crews work on restoring power to main line circuits, working first on those lines supplying essential services—the fire service, police and the hospitals.

Once the main lines are back on, their next effort is to restore branch lines and then small areas that feed off the branch line system.

BELCO released guidelines before the last hurricane to strike Bermuda (Igor in 2010) . They follow in full below, and you can visit the “Storm Centre” section of BELCO’s website here.

When a Storm is Imminent

  • We establish a BELCO command centre in our C. Eugene Cox Operation Centre, which is responsible for managing electricity restoration efforts.
  • Our fleet of trucks is fully fuelled and stocked with the necessary tools, including chainsaws and equipment necessary for restoring power.
  • Our line crews are mobilised with various personnel being designated to strategic locations throughout the Island. None of our line crews work during the height of a storm in the interest of safety.
  • Reminder to customers: Surge protection equipment can save your valuable appliances and sensitive electronic equipment when lightning strikes. Today’s modern electronic equipment is increasingly vulnerable due to highly sensitive microchip components, so it is important to protect it from damage caused by lightning or other fluctuations in electricity. You can take precautionary measures by disconnecting appliances and equipment prior to a hurricane or a lightning storm. However, a man-made disturbance to your power supply, such as a power surge or outage, may not give you time to take protective measures. The surge protector device diverts power surges to ground, limiting excess voltage and protecting sensitive electronic components. BELCO cannot accept liability for damage to equipment caused by power interruptions or voltage variations such as spikes or surges which occur as a result of severe weather. We advise that you review your insurance policy to determine whether or not damage to sensitive electronic equipment caused by storms or power interruptions is covered by your household insurance.

Calling 955

  • BELCO requests that customers do NOT phone 955 during a severe storm, as crews cannot be safely dispatched until after the storm subsides.
  • Please phone 955 after the storm passes. You need to phone just once to have your outage recorded. Call again if your neighbours have had power restored but you have not.
  • When calling BELCO at 955, you will be prompted to key in your home telephone number. If you have provided us with your number, you will then be prompted to follow the menu items and key in the appropriate numbers as they apply to you.

After a Storm

  • Our priority is to restore power to all customers as quickly as possible. As soon as storm conditions begin to subside, BELCO dispatches a team to assess damage and a restoration plan is developed. Crews work on restoring power to main line circuits to get the maximum number of customers back on with each job, working first on those lines supplying essential services—the Fire Service, Police and the hospitals. Once main lines are back on, BELCO’s next effort is to restore branch lines and then small areas which feed off our branch line system.
  • We make every effort to keep all of Bermuda informed of our progress throughout the restoration process. We do this with the help of the local news media, our website, Twitter and Facebook.

Reminders to Customers

  • Never touch downed wires as they may be live and you can’t tell if a wire is live or not by looking at it. Telephone or cable television wires that are touching a power line can become energised and should also be avoided. If you see a downed wire, call BELCO immediately at 955, and if you are not able to speak to an operator, call 911 to report the location of the downed wire.
  • Never pull tree limbs off lines. And do not attempt to carry out repairs to overhead wires yourself. Call BELCO and we’ll send our trained linesmen to perform the work.
  • Stay clear of areas where there is a lot of debris or downed trees because there could be live power lines concealed in the debris. Also stay clear of chain link or other metallic fences which may be energised if touching a downed line.

Generator Safety

  • Many people buy portable generators for emergency use. If you plan to use one, BELCO urges you to know how to operate your generator and to use it safely—for your sake and for the safety of our BELCO line crews. Please observe the following safety guidelines:
    • Read the manufacturer’s instructions and operate the generator according to instructions. Also, make sure the generator is the correct voltage for your appliances (110V). If you have questions, contact a qualified electrician. Improper operation can cause fire and electrical shock to you and our line crews.
    • Connect your generator correctly so that it is isolated from the BELCO system at all times. Incorrectly connecting a generator is a safety hazard for you and for our BELCO line crews, as the generator may feed back into and energise our power lines. Do not connect the generator into the breaker panel or household lines. Plug appliances directly into the generator and avoid overloading.
    • Keep the generator well-maintained, as generators require routine use, testing and maintenance.
    • Operate the generator outdoors in a well-ventilated area and make sure it is properly earthed or grounded. Also, make sure it is protected from rain.
    • Never refuel a generator while it is running or hot. Always keep open flames, such as matches or candles, away from the generator. Use a battery-operated flashlight when refueling. Unplug the generator output cord before starting it.